VA - Gov. Northam announces historic $1 billion funding to restore, conserve Chesapeake Bay
CHARLES CITY, Va. — During his "Thank You, Virginia" tour, Gov. Ralph Northam announced earlier this week that his two-year budget proposal will provide historic funding for the Chesapeake Bay, clean water infrastructure and conserving the Commonwealth’s natural resources.
With this proposal, the Commonwealth has dedicated more than $1 billion to restore the Chesapeake Bay and Virginia’s tidal tributaries in the past four years.
“Virginia pledged to reduce pollution to the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries to meet clean water goals by 2025,” said Gov. Northam. “My budget will ensure that the Commonwealth lives up to its commitment and restores the natural bounty of the Chesapeake Bay. By assisting farmers and localities implementing our Bay clean-up plan, my budget supports the economic, public health, recreation and quality of life benefits of a restored Bay for future generations.”
The proposed budget will provide nearly $286 million to fully fund the Virginia Natural Resources Commitment Fund, assisting farmers and landowners to implement clean water and conservation practices.
Working together, the agriculture and conservation communities have long advocated for full funding of Virginia’s agriculture BMP cost share “needs assessment” – a data-driven, stakeholder developed funding calculation. The cost share program supports various practices in conservation planning to treat cropland, pastureland, hay land and forested land. Additionally, funding will provide technical assistance for farmers and landowners to implement conservation practices.
Northam’s proposed budget dedicates $233.6 million to address the inequities in clean water accessibility by tackling outdated sewer systems and failing septics. The proposal includes a $165 million investment to support the cities of Richmond, Lynchburg and Alexandria and $68.6 million in funding for local municipal wastewater needs.
“Virginia is facing a 2025 deadline to meet Clean Water Act mandates for reducing pollution to the Chesapeake Bay,” said Secretary of Natural and Historic Resources Ann Jennings. “This historic investment in the Bay responds to calls from coalitions of local government, business and conservation interests. With this funding, we know that a saved Bay is within reach and one that will benefit all Virginians.”
The governor's proposal also includes an additional $10 million for the Virginia Land Conservation and supports the conservation of forest and farmland through a $5 million investment to the Office of Farmland Preservation.